Saturday, January 28, 2012

Awards 2011 - Solo instrumental

Ravel: Complete solo piano music
Steven Osborne

Christopher Dingle in BBC Music Magazine points out that "A complete survey of Ravel's piano music is an especially challenging prospect for any pianist", but fortunately "Osborne is more than up to the task... Throughout, Osborne repeatedly demonstrates not merely that these performances stand with the best, but also that comparisons are superfluous in the face of such a compelling vision". Nicholas Salwey in IRR confirms: "there is phenomenal competition in this repertoire... but Osborne's accounts can hold their own with any of these". In fact, "Osborne may have set a new benchmark". Meanwhile, Alan Becker in ARG draws attention to various other performers too, but advises "purchase this one first".

Schumann: Humoreske; 6 Studies in Canon Form; Gesänge der Frühe
Piotr Anderszewski

Brahms: Handel variations; Rhapsodies op.79; Piano pieces opp.118 & 119
Murray Perahia

Liszt: "Harmonies du soir"
Nelson Freire

Scarlatti: Piano sonatas
Alexandre Tharaud

The winner didn't seem to be in much doubt here, though as I compiled the results from foreign-language sources I wondered if Nelson Freire (who won the chamber award last year with Martha Argerich) might sneak it, but in the end he was sunk by a disappointed ARG reviewer. I must point out here one long-standing rule for the Awards: baroque music played on a modern piano isn't counted as baroque. And of course it's worth reflecting on whether we should have a separate award for solo instrumentalists who play something other than a piano - but then again, this year any potential candidates were quite some distance from the top of the list.

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